Emma Codd joined Deloitte 17 years ago and is the Managing Partner for Talent, a position she juggles alongside her client-facing role.
Fifteen years ago, if you’d asked Emma about her career aspirations, she would never have thought of being in her current position as a Partner at a Big 4 firm. But her rather quirky credentials – she studied history at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at University of London – coupled with her experience in business intelligence and single-mindedness when it comes to something she feels she can sink her teeth into, are exactly the kind of attributes that the firm is seeking in its future stars.
‘Opportunity – that’s what I saw when I joined the firm 17 years ago,’ says Emma, who besides being the Managing Partner for Talent is also a Partner in the firm’s Forensic and Dispute Services practice, where she established and now runs its Business Intelligence Services.
‘I couldn’t believe the clients that I was going to work with and the travel options I was being given and that’s how we inspire people coming here,’ she says adding that she was an unlikely executive of a Big 4 firm when she first graduated. What Emma was sure of was her need to have a passion for whatever she chose to do; to be fulfilled in her work – a perspective she was taught by her parents.
‘That is the basic rule that I have lived by,’ she explains.
‘I was lucky that I found something that I liked doing and it turned out that I was very good at doing it and then I’ve stuck to this rule. I stuck to it when I came to Deloitte and when I became a Partner and was offered opportunities to work on wider projects, I would consider those very carefully and only took those that I was passionate about and that I knew I would make a difference on.’
Innovators, entrepreneurs, those with a more strategic way of thinking – they are all being sought by Deloitte’s Talent team.
‘We want to attract people who may rule themselves out on the assumption that we only look for highly numerate people, when that’s not the case. People describe us as an accountancy firm and of course we are, but we are also a leading consultancy practice, a leading tax advisory practice, a leading corporate finance practice and each of those practices has a huge array of client services within it. So while we do expect a good level of numeracy we also offer great opportunities for people who have a leaning towards the arts and social sciences for example, and I’m proof of that. Of course we welcome the people who only ever wanted to work in professional services. But I didn’t do the careers fair stuff at university, I was the last person who would have thought about that – and yet I have ended up on the Executive of a Big 4.’
It’s important to the recruitment teams that Deloitte leads the way along this new path from alternative pools of talent into the profession but they also want to ensure the traditional paths to the right people remain open.
‘We are just looking a bit wider, opening our eyes a bit more,’ says Emma.
Once at the firm, there’s a commitment to retaining the best people, through flexible and agile working practices. As a working mother herself, Emma knows how it feels to have an unexpected home commitment – and even had to call off a meeting with the CEO when one of her children was sick.
‘We based our recently launched agile working initiative on three principles. The first one is, judge me on output – don’t judge on presenteeism, judge on what I produce. The second one is open and honest communications, and then the final one is around trust and respect . And we have to trust the people we work with. Sticking to those principles will ensure we have something that works for everybody. The most successful forms of flexible or agile working are those that work for the person and the team.’
Typically firms have lost women when they can’t get the flexibility that they need but Emma emphasises the need to encourage men to take up flexible, agile working too.
‘I have men in my team who are equally open that they want to go to their child’s sports day or other events. We want people to know that they’ve got that work/life balance,’ she says.